Thursday, February 16, 2012

Shadowing a Physician Assistant

In my quest to get into PA school I heard many fellow Pre-PAs talk about not being able to find a PA to shadow.  I know this can be one of the most difficult parts of the Pre-PA process but it is far from impossible. Here are a couple ideas of ways to find a PA to shadow:

  • is a simple to use website that is a great place to start. I have actually met the creator of this website and he is a great guy! Basically you sign up, find your state and then you can see what PAs have signed up in your area.  Some of the PAs don't put there availability up on the calendar so you should click on their name that is in "yellow" and send them an email. Remember be professional and to the point! (Side note: if your email is the same one you made in seventh grade and is something like you should really think about creating a more professional email account. Something you feel confident given to a potential future employer would be a good place to start.) Be sure to "like"!
  •  Your states PA group!  I would explore the groups website to see if there are any resources available. Next I would actually call the office!  For some reason when I tell this to other Pre-PAs they look at me like I am crazy but it seem very logical to me. These groups are there to help PAs that means you will probably either end up talking to an actual PA or to someone one deals with PAs all day. Be polite and respectful and it won't hurt to leave your name and professional email so they can get back to you if they do not know a PA off the top of their head. 
  • Call your doctor! Or you PA!  I think this is a resource people often over look, or they don't have a Dr. or PA which is a bigger separate problem.  Call their office and ask if they have know any PAs that you might be able to contact.  I would make sure your Dr. knows you are looking to shadow a PA, but try to get the PAs contact information so you can contact the PA yourself and "name drop" your doctor.  
  • Volunteer! Get out there and start volunteering in hospitals or clinics and let people know that you want to be a PA and are looking to shadow one.  This may seem like a lot of work and it IS!!!! But, the networking and connections you make can be invaluable, believe me! 
So lets say you have landed a date to shadow a PA, CONGRATULATIONS!!!!
But what are you going to wear? What are you going to talk about? Do you have questions for them? Do you know where you are going to meet?    These are important questions that you need to be ready for!

So to help you out I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you read Protocols for Shadowing by Mr. Rosen PA-C. Mr. Rosen PA-C is a Director at Large within the California Academy of Physician Assistant (CAPA) Board and is also the Public Relations Chair.

If you have any questions or you feel I missed something please share in the comments section!